I remember family road trips listening to Sue Grafton novels and other books on tape as we drove down to Florida or out west to see family (all our road trips were to see family). Audiobooks have long been a great way to pass time traveling.
My daily commute over the past years has afforded me about an hour per day to partake of the mind-freeing escape that comes from audiobooks. I haven’t kept track of how many books I’ve listened to over the years but I estimate that I get almost 250 hours of listening time per year. That’s a lot of audio time.
In the years I’ve been making this commute (since early 2014) I’ve had several favorite books. Most of these are well known and probably not much of a surprise. I’m going to list them anyway.
The very first book that really took my breath away was City of Thieves by David Benioff. A fantastic story and filled with some very interesting and a few disturbing historical tidbits (cannibals and exploding dogs) this book recounts the story of a young man’s quest through Leningrad during the German siege. One of the most delightful surprises of this book is the narrator, Ron Perlman, who I only really know from Hellboy. He did an absolutely amazing job of this. I was halfway through the book before I realized who was reading and I was honestly blown away. Mr. Perlman, I apologize for ever underestimating you. Your reading of this book has moved you to a new level in my regards.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, what a trip. If you want mind-twisting-mystery-roller-coaster stories, Gillian Flynn is the author for you. The story is great. The readers both did an amazing job. I really enjoyed listening to the different parts of the story read by the different characters.
During a very long, one-day road trip I listened to the entirety of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I don’t have much experience with drinking. None really. This book was very insightful for me as the main character is an alcoholic. Listening to the book all in one day had a strange affect on me too. I found that the narrator’s voice was ingrained in me. By that night when I finally got home around 1 am I’m pretty sure I remember dreaming in that same narrator’s voice.
The first book over thirty hours long that I listened too was a collection of short stories called Rogues. My only regret with this book is that I didn’t pay better attention to the authors so that I could look them up again in the future. Every story was great. Compiled by George R. R. Martin of a Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) fame the stories are mostly fantasy with a few exceptions. Someday I plan on revisiting the list of contributors and picking out a few of the authors for further reading. My list of books to read is so long. How does anyone keep up with all the amazing books out there?
Just an absolutely beautiful story, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is probably my second favorite book of all time. I’ve been on a bit of a historic fiction kick and this book was so well written and read. I felt like I was there, in Nazi occupied Paris. It’s not a happy place. If you have any interest in historical fiction, particularly WWII stuff, this book is great.
Finally, my favorite book of the past two and a half years is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Wow. I mean. This book still haunts me, in a wonderful way. Narrated by Death (yes, death), we follow Liesel Meminger through Nazi Germany in 1939. Yes, this is another historical fiction, but don’t let that stop you, this is a work that will stand for ages. It has heart, humor, love, and spirit. This book might just change your life.
I’ve read dozens of other audiobooks over the past few years. These are just a few that have stood out to me.
Amendment: I wanted to add one more book to this list. And good news, it’s not a historical fiction. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, a magical stroll down memory lane. I think this was the first book I read by from Neil Gaiman. I’ve read many more since. They were all great but this one is still my favorite from him.